University of Texas at San Antonio

IT Services Firm Improves Communications and Collaboration, Reduces Costs with Online Services

Solution Overview:

Organization Size

7000  employees

Organization Profile

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is a public state university founded in 1969 that serves 30,000 students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in their respective fields.

Business Situation

UTSA had deployed Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 to provide messaging services for 7,000 faculty and staff members. As people exceeded mailbox storage limits, it wanted to find a cost-effective solution to increase mailbox sizes without additional hardware and administration.


UTSA decided to transition its messaging solution from an on-premises solution to the Microsoft Exchange Online hosted service, which will help the university reduce costs and ease administration while maintaining expected service levels.

  • Reduces Costs
  • Eases Administration
Software and Services
  • Microsoft Exchange Online
  • Microsoft Office 365
Vertical Industries



United States



Company Overview:

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is a public university established by the Texas Legislature in 1969. With an enrollment of more than 30,000 students, the university today offers 135 degree programs in areas such as business, public policy, education, and fine and liberal arts. To help its 7,000 faculty and staff members communicate with students, UTSA had deployed Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 as its messaging solution.

UNIVERSITY-OF-TEXAS-AT-SAN-ANTONIO-Case-Study-Foetron Inc.Faced with growing storage requirements, the school began to look for an email solution that would require less hardware and administration. UTSA determined that transitioning its messaging solution from an on-premises deployment to Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based services could help it reduce hardware and datacenter costs and ease administration without sacrificing the service levels and security it had come to expect from Exchange Server.


Founded by the Texas Legislature in 1969, the University of Texas at San Antonio is the second-largest university in the University of Texas system and the eighth-largest university in the state. It currently offers 135 undergraduate and graduate programs in different fields that include business, architecture, education, engineering, and liberal arts. In the fall of 2010, the university had enrolled more than 30,000 students. The school supports approximately 7,000 full- and part-time faculty and staff members.

To provide a messaging solution for faculty and staff, UTSA had deployed Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 on-premises. The school has about 6,300 active accounts, and employees use the Microsoft Office Outlook messaging and collaboration client as their primary email client. About 20 percent of the faculty and staff on campus use Apple Macintosh or Linux computers and use Outlook Web App as their primary email client.

Using a hosted email solution, we can reduce our hardware costs, in addition to reducing our overall data center costs for power and cooling.

– Kyle Tuffentsamer
Analyst, University of Texas at San Antonio

Although the university was happy with the reliability of its messaging solution, it faced a problem with storage. The school had set mailbox quotas for faculty and staff at 500 megabytes (MB) of storage, but many professors on campus had mailboxes that exceeded the limit because they tended to use their email inboxes to store important documents. They also frequently used their email inbox to store their students’ work. Because their mailboxes were so small, professors moved old messages into Outlook Data files (PST) to help manage the size of their mailboxes. Some professors had more than 25 gigabytes (GB) of message data stored in these PST files. They would store the PST files on network file shares, which not only decreased the performance of Outlook, but also occupied valuable space on the network.

Faced with a large amount of messaging data to store, the university purchased more storage and raised mailbox quotas to 5 GB, but people continued to exceed the limits. The cost of storage was becoming an issue for the school. UTSA implemented Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 for document storage and management, but it found people continued to use email to store important documents. While the IT team believed that over time more people would begin to use SharePoint Server to store documents, they needed a more immediate solution.


At first, UTSA considered upgrading its on-premises messaging solution to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, which offers more flexible and cost-effective storage options than Exchange Server 2003. However, the university also decided to consider transitioning its messaging solution to a cloud-based service to help reduce costs and administration. Ultimately, UTSA decided to transition to Microsoft Office 365, which combines the familiar Office desktop with enhanced cloud-based communication and collaboration services. With Office 365, UTSA could move its messaging solution to Microsoft Exchange Online, which offers it many of the same capabilities as Exchange Server 2010 with fewer administrative and hardware requirements.

With Exchange Online, all faculty and staff members at UTSA will have 25 GB of mailbox storage by default. Employees can apportion this storage between their primary mailbox and the personal archive, a specialized mailbox that appears alongside users’ primary

We found the configuration and migration steps to be very straightforward.

– Kyle Tuffentsamer
Analyst, University of Texas at San Antonio

mailbox folders in Outlook or Outlook Web App. “We believe only a handful of professors on campus—those who might be storing many years’ worth of research—will exceed the 25 GB mailbox quota, and for those people who need more space, we can easily pay to provide a larger archive,” explains Kyle Tuffentsamer, an analyst at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Exchange Online also supports the Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011 messaging and collaboration client, so people at UTSA who use Macintosh computers have access to a rich client on the desktop.

Overall, UTSA found it easy to prepare for the migration from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Online. To ensure it considered all the necessary steps for migration, it built a simulation of its production environment for migration and tested it several times. It also prepared its Microsoft Active Directory servers and configured Active Directory Federation Services. “We set up multiple load-balanced servers for Active Directory Federation Services to enable people to connect to Exchange Online with their existing credentials,” says Tuffentsamer. “We found the configuration and migration steps to be very straightforward.” UTSA plans to have all of its Exchange Server accounts migrated to Exchange Online by June 2011.

UTSA plans to take advantage of enhanced administrative features in Exchange Online such as role-based access control (RBAC), which IT administrators can use to control and delegate tasks that administrators and help desk operators can perform. The IT team also plans to use the enhanced scripting capabilities of Exchange Online to manage more feature sets through the command line. With Remote PowerShell, built on the Windows PowerShell 2.0 command-line interface, administrators can connect to Exchange Online to perform management tasks that would be time-consuming with the web management interface. For example, they can use Remote PowerShell to automate repetitive tasks, extract data for custom reports, customize policies, and connect Exchange Online to existing infrastructure and processes.

Other capabilities UTSA plans to use are delegate access and legal hold. With the delegate access feature, faculty and staff can allow others, such as administrative or academic assistants, to manage their email and calendars. For legal hold, UTSA currently has a third-party program that it plans to retire after it moves to Exchange Online. Instead, it will use the legal hold capability in Exchange Online to preserve deleted and edited mailbox items (including email messages, appointments, and tasks) from both primary mailboxes and personal archives.

To provide security for its messaging solution, UTSA was using Microsoft Forefront Security for Exchange Server. With Exchange Online, the capabilities of Microsoft Forefront Online Protection for Exchange are built into the service, so UTSA can expect the same level of security it experienced with its on-premises solution without additional administration or the additional fees for updates.


By moving its messaging solution into the cloud with Office 365, UTSA can provide better service for faculty and staff without the need to acquire additional hardware or hire additional support. Instead, it can continue to provide the same level—or better—of service that faculty and staff have come to expect.

Reduces Costs
With the transition to Exchange Online, UTSA will reduce costs in a number of areas. “Using a hosted email solution, we can reduce our hardware costs, in addition to reducing our overall data center costs for power and cooling,” says Tuffentsamer.

For people who need a larger archive, we can easily pay for additional space per user, instead of increasing storage overall. And by moving data to the cloud, we can create more space on our current network file shares for people who need it.

– Kyle Tuffentsamer
Analyst, University of Texas at San Antonio

In addition, it no longer has to worry about how to provide additional storage for people who exceed their mailbox quota limits. “For people who need a larger archive, we can easily pay for additional space per user, instead of increasing storage overall,” explains Tuffentsamer. “And by moving data to the cloud, we can create more space on our current network file shares for people who need it.”

UTSA will also reduce costs for additional solutions, such as security and litigation hold software, that it used to provide required capabilities for its on-premises Exchange Server solution.

Eases Administration
Because UTSA will no longer have to maintain its messaging servers on-premises, members of the IT team can focus on other areas of support. In addition, IT can use Exchange Online capabilities such as role-based access control to help enable and manage administrative rights for users in other departments who need to create and manage accounts.

Microsoft Office 365:

Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of our most trusted communications and collaboration products—Microsoft SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online—with the latest version of our Office desktop suite and companion web applications for businesses of all sizes.

Office 365 helps save time and money, and it frees up valued resources. Simple to use and easy to administer, it is financially backed by a service level agreement guaranteeing 99 percent reliability. Office 365 features robust security, IT-level phone support, geo-redundancy, disaster recovery, and the business-class privacy controls and standards that you expect from a world-class service provider.


Microsoft Case Study: University of Texas at San Antonio

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